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Interview with San Sebastian Capital of Culture 2016


With the kick off of the San Sebastian European Capital of Culture 2016, Schuman Associates (SA) had the opportunity to chat with the Communication Director of San Sebastian 2016 Capital of Culture, Fernando Álvarez (FA) and this is what he shared with us:

SA: How would you define the essence of San Sebastian Capital of Culture 2016 in one single sentence?
FA: We haven´t invested in infrastructure. Instead of using hardware, we have invested in software (cultural projects) in order to provide tools that will help society grow stronger and more integrated.

SA: Which are the strong points of the San Sebastian’s proposal for 2016 Capital of Culture competition?
FA: We can divide the strong points in four main areas or milestones:

  1. Capital for coexistence using culture and dialogue as the roads towards improved coexistence. It will also promote stronger ties with the rest of Europe and foster innovation in the cultural sector.
  2. A participatory programme: the programme proposes a frame of artistic initiatives and cultural processes that have their origins in local community participation. 
  3. A permanent legacy: the San Sebastian 2016 programme is designed to leave a specific legacy for the future: a local community with greater freedom, humanism and respect towards human rights, a more participatory society that learns to solve its conflicts through culture and the arts. San Sebastian aims to become a benchmark in the sphere of creative processes and culture.
  4. A new way of working: the project has a special impact in the areas that inspire knowledge and use of technology, promote mediation in creative processes, prompt linguistic diversity, facilitate citizen empowerment and participation, and cultivate critical thought by means of contemporary art.

SA: San Sebastian officially starts its year of culture on 23 January 2016, and more than 400 projects are in progress. Is the city exploring funding opportunities offered by the European Union programmes to fund projects included in their European Capital of Culture cultural programme?
FA: San Sebastian Capital of Culture Foundation has applied to different EU programmes to fund some of our projects, such us Europe for Citizens, Erasmus +, Interreg and Creative Europe programmes. We have submitted more than 10 projects to these calls, and we have succeeded in 3 of them (2 Creative Europe and 1 Interreg). You can find more info about these 3 cooperation projects funded by the EU and included in the following websites:

The first two projects are long term projects that will last until 2018 (Corners) and 2019 (Other Words) while the last one has already finished.

SA: How does San Sebastian plan to use this opportunity to promote stronger ties with the rest of Europe?
FA: Our motto is "Culture to live together". To coexist means to live with, to have the ability and the capacity to share the same physical space getting over the conflicts and creating together a community. We´ll achieve this through our cultural programme, which features projects, with a European dimension, designed in order to achieve a better coexistence through culture. A few examples:

SA: The European Capitals of Culture initiative is a major European Union action aimed at highlighting the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, as well as promoting greater mutual understanding among Europe's citizens. In addition to this, experience has shown that the event is an excellent opportunity to boost tourism. Do you expect the same for San Sebastian? What are the previsions and the expectations for tourism increase in the city for 2016?
FA: Our programme wasn´t designed to maximize the amount of tourists in San Sebastian during 2016, but of course we are very happy to welcome all the visitors. San Sebastian is a very attractive city for tourism and it´s been featured in a lot of media reports by international news outlets such as this one by New York Times (num. 18). We have big expectations to attract visitors interested in our cultural programme.

If you want to learn more about European Capital of Cultures you can check Schuman Associates post on Funds for European Capital of Culture:

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